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Canberra Demons coach Ben Waite could miss NEAFL season

Canberra Demons playing coach Ben Waite is meeting with a neurosurgeon at the end of the month to decide whether he needs surgery to fix a spine problem.

The Demons launched their 2016 NEAFL season by announcing their leadership group on Friday, which included Aaron Bruce, NEAFL representative ruckman Ben Dowdell, Ainslie duo Cameron Bernasconi and Nicholas Heyne, Nick Fothergill and Rowan McLachlan.

Waite said a captain has not been named yet because he wants the leadership group's input into the decision.

Last year Waite was captain-coach, but he might be sidelined for the first half of the season.

"I've got some neural impingement in my spine. I can run and I can do most things, [but] I can't do things at an intensity that NEAFL requires and that might involve a little bit of surgery," he said.

"I've told the group it's more likely [I'll] not play. I'll do all my running and rehab as if I'm going to play and then hopefully we can get all the right news from the surgeon and maybe come back for the back half of the year."


The Demons have changed their name from Eastlake to Canberra for 2016, while Ainslie dropped out of the NEAFL at the end of last season.

A young Demons side finished bottom of the ladder, winning just one game in 2015.

Waite said it would be another season focused on development rather than wins and losses.

They will start to ramp up preparations for the season when they travel to play Albury in their first pre-season hit-out on March 5 and then play Sydney University the following week.

"It'll be internal KPIs that we'll focus on, individual performances and improvements is probably what we'll grade our year on," Waite said.

"Again, very, very young [team] ... as far as win-losses we're going to play our style and make sure that our inhouse performance indicators are met."